Steven Gerrard is a famous soccer player with both Liverpool and England. A hero to millions, many of whom would probably consider it an honor to hand over to him the control of a simple CD player. But Marcus McGee was one person not so inclined.
And today the Crown Court in Liverpool heard how that refusal was to cost Mr McGee, a businessman , very dear. For Mr McGee found himself the victim of a vicious assault in which, according to the Goal website, he suffered "multiple injuries, including a head wound, a black eye and lost teeth".
Six other men involved in the incident at the Lounge Inn in Southport, a seaside town 16.5 miles north of Liverpool, on December 29 of last year, have already admitted their guilt. Five men, including John Doran who was the first to lay hands on Mr McGee, admitted affray whilst a sixth man admitted a lesser charge of threatening behavior. But Gerrard, a man whose entire professional career has been spent with Liverpool and was born only miles from the Anfield stadium where he has made his name, denies that his actions on the night in question amounted to affray, claiming instead that he acted in self-defense.
The seven men, two of whom were professional soccer players like Gerrard, but with a lower division side Accrington Stanley, had gone to the Lounge Inn to celebrate a 5-1 victory that Liverpool had enjoyed over Newcastle United.
Mr McGee had responsibility for the music in the bar that evening, although as the Telegraph notes he was not the DJ as such. Gerrard apparently asked Mr McGee for the card which controlled the CD player but Mr McGee refused to hand over the card, the court hearing that he did not like Gerrard's attitude and was offended by the words, more specifically the word lad, that Gerrard used when he asked for the card. "Here y'are, lad. Give me that, lad" is what Gerrard is supposed to have said.
What happened next was described to the court by the prosecuting counsel David Turner QC:Not many people on Merseyside, or indeed anywhere else, would refuse a request from Steven Gerrard but Mr McGee did. There can be no doubt that this refusal astounded Steven Gerrard. He walked away back to his party but the CCTV shows how much his mood had changed. He was no longer the centre of that high spirited party. He was clearly walking around pondering, musing over what had happened - about the man who said 'no' to Steven Gerrard
When Gerrard returned a few minutes later, to where Mr McGee was sitting alone, an argument ensued during which the soccer millionaire, married to fashion journalist Alex Curran and the father of two young daughters, and the businessman were "head-to-head". Gerrard's friends saw the argument taking place and one of them, John Doran, walked over and pushed Mr McGee away from Gerrard, elbowing the victim in the face as he did so.
It was then that Gerrard punched Mr McGee several times, he admitted as much to the police after he was arrested, doing so with what the BBC called "the style and speed of a boxer". But 29 year old Gerrard, who has been awarded an MBE for services to sport, maintains that the punches he threw were in self-defense and that McGee did punch him back at some stage.
Mr Turner QC refuted Gerrard's claim of self-defense, telling the court:Steven Gerrard is a world-class footballer. He has the honour to be captain of Liverpool FC and to play for England. He is a star. He is Liverpool born and bred and here on Merseyside is a hero. We do not say that Mr Gerrard is normally an arrogant man, we don't say that he is a bully. What we do say is that that night he just lost his self-control and joined in an attack which should never have taken place. He let himself down
A jury of seven women and five men will decide on Gerrard's guilt or innocence, at the end of a trial which could last for up to two weeks.